Conference News April 2018 - Page 41

41 Think Tank Once upon a time…. Don’t panic Simon Maier has a story to tell GDPR could be another Y2K damp squib, says Richard John buzzword will often rip through the business world, screech to a halt, do a quick wheelie, get a book written on it and end up in a pile of jargon next to ‘fly it up the flagpole’. One of the biggest buzzwords now is ‘storytelling’ – and it’s mainstream. Conferences on the subject have fewer empty seats than at a Harry Styles concert. I’ve recently presented two keynotes on corporate storytelling and was astonished at the hunger that exists. Organisations are capitalising on the amount of time people spend consuming content. We’ve lived with stories forever and we do still – in social media, on buses, trains and TV, at lunch, over coffee, by water coolers, in movies, games and books, at home, in advertising, in business and in events. Throughout history, those who tell good stories have a timeless skill as essential drivers of change (and entertainment). For good and, alas, for ill. Lasting stories have compelling characters. They persuade; they make us laugh and cry; they help us think – and recall ideas in a way that stats on their own just can’t. As we consume content by the streamful, storytelling is a skill that every business, individual and event needs, if a message is to stand out. Social media has made us comfortable about having conversations with organisations. And organisations are excited about putting content in your Facebook streams, in-between your family pictures and next to your Guardian links. As most corporations consider themselves as publishers (think that one through), the defining characteristic among the successful ones will be the ability to not j ust offload content, but to craft great content. Yes, we need data to make decisions in life and work, but the best tool to help us retain something, when the numbers fade from memory, is a story – and a good one, well told. ’m going to make a wild guess that, within your organisation, there are a people running around like headless chickens, mouthing the letters ‘GDPR,’ and waving their hands in fear at some imaginary digital sky daddy. As an agnostic, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, just like all those sects that announce the end of the world, we are facing a damp squib. Now, this view, which may fly in the face of perceived wisdom, is partly due to having lived through the hype of Y2K; we were all told how the so-called Millennium Bug would hit and planes would drop out of the sky. Do you remember that happening? No, because it didn’t. And you may well have paid GDPR consultants to come and tell you about all the things you’re not doing, and how it will bring a plague on your children; or attended workshops that promise all the answers to the New World of Data, interspersed with pictures of dank-looking prison cells. The reality is, if you’re already handling your data as you should under existing DPA rules, you’ll be fine. And if you’re not, you’re going to be screwed, deservedly. One difference is potentially MUCH BIGGER FINES. In 2015 TalkTalk were fined £400k when 150,000 customer details were stolen; under the new rules the bill might be £59m. The big challenge for organisers is the buying of Third Party lists, because you need to be sure the vendor has obtained ‘adequate’ consent. It’s unlikely that they’ll have the ‘named’ consent required, which will make list buying a far more costly affair. Therefore, perhaps devote your energies into activities which generate a steady list of genuine, consenting enquiries. In truth, the main issues for event organisers aren’t that much of a concern. OK, so your ‘consent’ boxes should be unticked, and opt-in becomes a proactive activity. You should be robust in only asking for relevant information and making sure all staff (including external agents) have controlled access to data based on genuine need. You should be keeping data safe, allowing customers to know what you hold about them, correcting errors swiftly and not passing data on without consent. And you should be cleansing your data regularly and check your customers still want to be kept informed about your events.